PASTEL and the History of the Pastel Society
(Taken from an article by Robin Capon)

Pastel has many attractive qualities for artists, especially the fact that it combines so readily the immediacy of drawing with a rich and painterly colouring potential. Not surprisingly, since its introduction in the 16th century, it has been used by many of the world’s greatest artists, including Chardin, Quentin de Latour, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec and Mary Cassat. It was a particularly popular medium in France, and this eventually led to the founding of the Société des Pastellistes in 1870. In England, the first exhibition devoted entirely to pastel was held in 1888, and not long after this the first British pastel society was formed – the Society of British Pastellists. However, mainly due to extremely harsh criticism in the press, this society was short-lived.

A decade later, in the autumn of 1898, in the studio of Marion Gemmell, at Lownes Square in London, a group of artists met to discuss the formation of a new society for pastellists, and this became known as the Pastel Society. George Frederick Watts was elected President, with the founding members including such accomplished painters as George Clausen, Hercules Brabazon Brabazon, William Orchardson and William Holman Hunt.

The first exhibition was organized for February 1899 at the galleries of the Royal Institute of Water Colour Painters in Piccadilly. Soon, the annual exhibition began to attract other prominent artists of the time, such as Whistler and Sickert. Interest and confidence in pastel had once again been restored and the medium began to enjoy the status it had known a century earlier.

By 1915 the membership had increased to 87. In 1921 Samuel Melton Fisher was elected president, a post he held for the next 18 years. He worked tirelessly to improve the standing of the society during a difficult period in its development. From 1926 to 1988 the society held a joint annual exhibition with the Pencil Society - a decision which at first proved very unpopular with many leading critics. The two societies amalgamated in 1988.

Unlike many other societies the Pastel Society continued to stage exhibitions during the Second World War, showing at the Guildhall Gallery and a number of provincial venues after the RI Galleries had been damaged by bombing. Later, exhibitions returned to the RI Galleries, but when the lease expired in 1970 the society joined the Federation of British Artists at the Mall Galleries, which has since remained the venue for the annual exhibition.

The present standing and popularity of pastel owes much to the exciting and varied work of the members of the Pastel Society and, of course, to the direction and enthusiasm of its different presidents over the years. The current president is Cheryl Culver RBA. As well as the annual exhibition, which remains the highlight of the year’s events, the society organises tutorial workshops, demonstrations and lectures in different parts of the country to promote the medium. It continues to play an important and influential role in the contemporary art scene.

'PASTEL' a short article by Leigh Parry Past President.

PASTEL is dry, durable and as permanent as the paper, board or other support to which it is applied so long as the surface of the painting is not rubbed or allowed to get damp. If not protected under glass in a frame, pastels may be stored quite safely between sheets of folded paper secured so that the work does not slide about. Their durability is exemplified by the fact that the earliest exponents of this art lived about 30,000 BC and the work of these cave dwellers has lasted until today. They had white chalk, various earth colours, e.g. red and yellow, black from charring in the fire and the cave wall to work on. Present day pastels, highly refined and rigorously tested are claimed to have an almost limitless shelf life. These soft pastels may be applied in light strokes or heavily and then rubbed into coloured paper or white paper tinted with a watercolour wash. They marry with charcoal, coloured conte crayons and even ink for preliminary drawings, but not over graphite pencil lines.

This medium gives unlimited scope to all varieties of thinking and methods of execution in present day art. Many are the examples and many the styles possible with this versatile medium, as may be seen by such masters of the past from the precise portrait drawings of Holbein, through the silky impastos of Manet to the vigorous and apparent abandon of stokes and rubbings of Degas - but with what breath-taking precision is the abandon! That the freshness of the medium lasts may be seen also for example in the work of Maurice de la Tour 1704 - 1788 e.g. the glowing portrait of Mr Henry Dawkins in the National Gallery, apparently as fresh as the day it was painted. 

The Pastel Society in its present form was instituted in 1898. There were seventy-seven members, among them such well-known names as H. B. Brabazon, George Clausen RA, W. Q. Orchardson RA, Solomon J. Solomon and the founder G. F. Watts RA in the list of original members. The Society joined the Federation of British Artists at the Mall Galleries in 1970.

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Featured Artist

Janine Baldwin
Textures of Snow at Scarborough Janine Baldwin sized
' Textures of Snow at Scarborough '
by Janine Baldwin

 

Janine Baldwin PS 

Biographical Details:

1998 - 2001
BA (Hons) Fine Art Degree
University of York, Scarborough Campus
(now affiliated with University of Hull)
1995 - 1997
GNVQ Advanced Art & Design
A-Level Art
Creative School of Arts, Scarborough

Societies:

The Pastel Society

Artist's Statement:

My work is the expression of a lifelong affinity with the landscape. I live on the North Yorkshire coast of the UK, and this location is a constant source of inspiration to my painting. My interest lies not in making a literal representation of nature but rather in celebrating the physical sensory experience of land and sea. As a result, the semi-abstract paintings are vibrant and energetic, combining gestural marks and the use of rich evocative colour.
Associations arise from the colours and lines - a fresh green may be reminiscent of new foliage in springtime, a round shape may recall pebbles smoothed by the waves. I use a gradual layering of paint to create my work, and oil sticks (oil paint in solid form) are often used to integrate drawing and painting. Recently drawing has been central to my work and I have used pastel, charcoal and graphite to explore mark-making. Influences include Abstract Expressionism (particularly Willem de Kooning), Joan Eardley, Cy Twombly and Cornish art.
I have exhibited extensively across the UK, including with the Royal Academy of Arts, the Society of Women Artists, and the Pastel Society UK, London. I am honoured to have won awards for my work such as The Arts Club Charitable Trust Award in 2014, the Haworth Prize in 2015, and the Unison Colour Young Artists Award in 2016, London. This year I am excited to have been elected a member of the prestigious Pastel Society, London. I have work in private collections across the UK and Europe, Africa, Mexico and the US.

Selected Exhibitions:

'Royal Academy Summer Exhibition', The Royal Academy of Arts, London
'The Haworth Prize' at the 'New English Art Club Annual Exhibition', Mall Galleries, London
'Pastel Society Annual Exhibition', Mall Galleries, London (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)
Cambridge Art Fair 2016, represented by Watermark Gallery
'Painting: Light of the North', According to McGee, York
'A Woman's View', Blue Tree Gallery, York
'Society of Women Artists 150th Annual Exhibition', Mall Galleries, London
The Biscuit Factory, Newcastle
Cricket Fine Art, London
Cornwall Contemporary, Penzance, Cornwall
'Bath Society of Artists 100th Exhibition', Victoria Art Gallery, Bath

Awards, Prizes, Membership:

2017 - Elected a member of the Pastel Society, London
2017 - Highly Commended Work in Monochrome Prize from STABILO UK, Society of Graphic Fine Art 'DRAW17' Exhibition, Menier Gallery, London
2017 - The Picture Framing Workshop Prize, Kunsthuis Gallery, Crayke, York
2016 - The Unison Colour Young Artist Award, at the Pastel Society Annual Exhibition, Mall Galleries, London
2015 - The Haworth Prize, at the New English Art Club Annual Exhibition, Mall Galleries, London
2014 - The Arts Club Charitable Trust Award, at the Pastel Society Annual Exhibition, Mall Galleries, London
2006 - Shortlisted for 'Art Scholarship for Rural & Landscape Artists', Royal Bath & West of England Society

Collections:

Sir Alan and Lady Heather Ayckbourn
Private collections across the UK and Europe, Africa, Mexico and the US.


Go to https://www.janinebaldwin.com/ to view full CV and website

Details of the following images are shown on the banner:

' Frozen II '
' Silence '
' Soft Morning '
' Stormy Skies '


     


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